Editor's pick: Homes found to breach neighbourhood plan

The secretary of state has refused a recovered appeal for 211 homes in Buckinghamshire against an inspector's recommendation, giving very substantial weight given to a conflict between the appeal proposal and a neighbourhood plan.

The site comprised fields around a farm 850 metres from a town centre. The secretary of state noted that the relevant housing policies in the neighbourhood plan were out of date, so the presumption in favour of sustainable development in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) meant that the appeal should be allowed unless any adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies in the NPPF taken as a whole.

He found that the scheme's contribution to housing supply attracted substantial weight. However, he gave only limited weight to additional open and play space provision to support healthy communities, in view of the considerable opportunities for outdoor recreation on and around the site.

He gave significant weight to other social and economic benefits associated with housing provision, and considerable weight to the provision of dwellings meeting level 3 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and the potential benefits of measures to encourage the use of alternative forms of transport to the private car.

However, he found that landscape harm weighed against the proposal, due to the value that local people placed on this area of countryside. Some weight was also attached to the loss of agricultural land and a lack of clarity on whether the appeal scheme would be an effective use of land. 

The neighbourhood plan had been made and formed part of the development plan for the area. The secretary of state considered that neighbourhood plans, once made, should be upheld as an effective means to shape and direct development.

He placed very substantial negative weight on the conflict between the appeal proposal and the neighbourhood plan, even though policies relevant to housing land supply were out of date because the council had a housing land supply of only 4.4 years. He concluded that this and the other adverse impacts, taken together, would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the scheme's benefits.

Inspector: Clive Sproule; Inquiry

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